Revolution Lullabye

March 25, 2009

Cope and Kalantzis, Introduction: Multiliteracies

Cope, Bill and Mary Kalantzis. “Introduction: Multiliteracies: The Beginning of an Idea.” In Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures. Eds. Cope and Kalantzis. London: Routledge, 2000. 1-8.

In their introduction, Cope and Kalantzis, both founding members of the New London Group, explain how the New London Group began, what the New London Group’s two basic arguments are, and the purposes of the book, an edited collection. The New London Group, a working group of American, Australian, British, and South African scholars interested in literacy, language, and education, first met together in 1994 and began to work on an article (the first chapter of the collection) that articulated their two major claims centered around the concepts of multiliteracies and design. Their first argument is that the rapidly changing communications venues of the 21st century make teaching one literacy (mostly print-based) outdated and irrelevant. Their second argument is that the rapidly globalizing world make teaching one standard English langauge also outdated and irrelevant. They advocate that educators need to teach multimodal composition that ask students how to communicate, design, and act in shifting linguistic and cultural settings. The book lays out some of their theoretical understandings of the effects of social context on literacy pedagogy and explains how they have translated their ideas into classroom curricula.

Quotable Quotes

“We are both inheritors of patterns and conventions of meaning while at the same time active designers of meaning. And, as designers of meaning, we are designers of social futures.” (7).

Want to create “learners and students who can be active designers – makers – of social futures.” (7)

“The focus was on the big picture; the changing world and the new demands being placed upon people as makers of meaning in changing workplaces, as citizens in changing public spaces and in the changing dimensions of our community lives – our lifeworlds” (4).

“New communications media are reshaping the way we use language. When technologies of meaning are changing so rapidly, there cannot be one set of standards or skills that constitutes the ends of literacy learning, however taught.” (6).

“Effective citizenship and productive work now require that we interact effectively using multiple languages, multiple Englishes, and communication patterns that more frequently cross cultural, community, and national boundaries.” (6).

Notable Notes

There is no one stable literacy or language

literacies are always being remade by their users (5)

how would Latour speak to their use of the social? what would Wysocki say about multimodal?

six design elements in the meaning-making process: linguistic, visual, audio, gestural, spatial, multimodal (the connections between the two)

four kinds of practice for these elements: situated practice, overt instruction, critical framing, and transformed practice

Big words – design and multiliteracies

January 27, 2009

Downs and Wardle, “Teaching about Writing, Righting Misconceptions”

Downs, Douglas and Elizabeth Wardle. “Teaching about Writing, Righting Misconceptions: (Re)Envisioning “First-Year Composition” as “Introduction to Writing Studies.” CCC 58.4 (June 2007) 552-585.

The authors argue for transforming the required first-year course, usually taught as a introduction to the skills necessary to write “academic discourse” into a course that introduces students to writing studies as a field, using their own courses at University of Dayton and Utah¬†Valley State College as examples.¬†The generalized first-year course stands in contradiction to many of the established, researched theories in rhetoric and composition: that all writing is content and context-driven, that writing is an area of research and study, that writing is a complex activity that requires more than good luck and “transferable” basic skills, and that experts in writing are needed to teach writing. Such a shift in the curriculum of the first-year course allows for better transitioning to WAC initiatives (because writing, from the very beginning, is grounded in content and context), gives the newly developing majors a cornerstone foundation course, and improves the position of writing at the university from a service discipline to one that is recognized by students and faculty as a field with valuable, relevant, and important research and theoretical knowledge.

Quotable Quotes

“Writing studies has ignored the implications of this research and theory and continued to assure its publics (faculty, administrators, parents, industry) that FYC can do what nonspecialists have always assumed it can: teach, in one or two early courses, “college writing” as a set of basic, fundamental skills that will apply in other college courses and in business and public spheres after college. In making these unsupportable assurances to stakeholders, our field reinforces cultural misconceptions of writing instead of attempting to educate students and publics out of these misconceptions” (1) page numbers are from printed online version

“Students leave the course with increased awareness of writing studies as a discipline, as well as a new outlook on writing as a researchable activity rather than a mysterious talent” (7).

“By employing nonspecialists to teach a specialized body of knowledge, we undermine our own claims as to that specialization and make our detractors’ argument in favor of general writing skills for them. As Debra Dew demonstrates, constructing curricula that require specialization goes a long way toward professionalizing the writing instruction workforce” (21).

Notable Notes

what the first-year course is reflects the whole discipline. Making it more rigorous and centering it on the field of rhet and comp will improve the status of rhet/comp.

category mistake – Gilbert Ryle – academic writing as one category of writing when it really cannot be defined as an umbrella term

problems/consequences of the shift: no textbook that teaches first-year writing in this way, huge labor force that needs to be trained, the research takes a long time and student work won’t be as clean or neat, high schools don’t prepare students for the field, so there’s a huge learning curve that needs to happen, content and expecatation-wise

courses that follow the intro to writing studies model use readings drawn from the research of the field of rhetoric and composition, allows students to explore their own writing practices in juxtaposition, and asks them to do research on writing.

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